"He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. "
- Lao Tzu
Learning is a life-long process and anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Your competition is not with other people but with yourself. These thoughts completely resonate with Ashwini Sarabhai, who is an award-winning cake and sugar flower artist.
Ashwini previously worked in the IT sector for a while after which she switched to baking and cake decorating. The beauty and realness of her spectacular sugar flower creations have to be seen to be believed.
The incredibly talented Ashwini is one of the special guests of honour at The Bakers Collective this year and we had the opportunity to have an interesting chat with her about her journey.
How did you first get started with baking and cake decorating?
It was in the year 2003 or 2004 when I had gone to the U.S where I started to learn baking and cake decorating. I thought it would be interesting to do the short course as I was always inclined towards art and craft – anything artistic. So just out of curiosity and interest I attended that. Then one led to the other and there was just no stopping.
What are some things you do differently now than when you first started baking and cake decorating?
Definitely the level of experience and perfection that I have now is very different. In sugar flowers too, what I used to do back then and what I do now, there’s a vast difference in the materials that are being used or even the way they are used, more importantly. By experience, you also come to know many different tips and tricks – some things work out for you while some things don’t. So your level of work changes.
What has been your greatest challenge?
In India, till a few years back, the challenge used to be the availability of ingredients, good quality materials. Also, to learn anything new that is trending or upcoming, you had to go abroad to learn it. Now this trend is changing as most of the things are manufactured in India and we also get most of the imported stuff here easily. If we want to learn anything new in this field, we now have a chance to learn that here itself. The awareness is much better now, earlier it was lacking big time, people did not want to spend on cakes or even spend on learning about it. But now that has changed.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part is the satisfaction that you get when you create something new. That is a totally unparalleled satisfaction. You come up with new techniques or you learn something new and you work on it. And if your clients or target audience appreciate your work, then what more do you need. So that’s also the best part.
What are your favourite baking and cake decorating tools?
I have a couple of favourites. I have a snipped scissor which I totally love and I carry it everywhere along with me. I also have a rolling pin which I love as well as the Dresden tool, a ball tool. So these are a few of my favourite tools.
Which one of your creations is your favourite?
(Laughs) That’s a very difficult question. There are quite a few so it is very difficult to say which one is my favourite because for each and every cake there is some emotional attachment, some story behind it. But there are quite a few which I would recollect and say that yes! This one is among the few which I would really keep in my mind and remember. And among the flowers that I make, there are a few which I really like. One is the passion flower (also known as Krishnakamal) , then is the marigold and the cannonball tree flower. Out of these the passion flower was pretty difficult to make as it was very intricate. The marigold was difficult too because it had too many petals – around 275 to 300 petals all wired together. So the difficulty was not in the technique per se.
Could you give some tips or advice to people who have just started in this field or would love to start?
Basically I would just say that they have to keep learning, don’t stop and don’t get into that mode where you just do one or two classes and feel like you have learnt it all. So keep learning till you perfect your art. Nobody can really judge you on how good you are, you are the best judge. Another important thing is don’t feel ashamed to learn from anybody, whatever their age is – younger, older – doesn’t matter. If that person is a good artist, then he or she can definitely be a teacher. Many people have these false egos and feel that they can’t learn from someone younger, older, from the same city and things like that. But this doesn’t really matter if your art is good. Your competition is only with you, not with anybody else. At the end of the day, everybody has to stay together right? So there should not be a problem in appreciating anyone else.
Yes, that is really important advice. Lastly, what does The Bakers Collective mean to you?
My experience at The Bakers Collective previously has been very good. Last time was my first time at the event so this is my second time here. Everybody comes together, there’s a lot of networking that happens throughout the span of the event. A lot of knowledge sharing takes place and the artists that are invited are also really quality artists. So the demos and workshops that are scheduled have a lot of variety and there’s a lot of quality stuff. That’s a very important part of the event. It’s a very well organized, well managed event.
Such inspiring thoughts! We were absolutely honoured to have this conversation with Ashwini and would like to acknowledge some of her amazing achievements –
- In the cake decorating and baking field, Ashwini has been trained from reputed institutes and experts in the industry in the USA. Her venture “The Dream Cakes” is where she creates designer cakes, conducts workshops and online classes for cake decorating art.
- Her beautiful creations have been featured in many National and International magazines, websites, newspapers and TV shows.
- Ashwini is the proud Ambassador for India and Approved Teacher for the prestigious International Cake Exploration Society (ICES.org) headquartered in the USA.
- She has also been awarded the Top 10 Cake Artist in India by Cake Masters Magazine, UK, for 2017 and 2018.
- Ashwini was also the finalist in the prestigious Cake Masters Magazine Awards 2018, aka Cake Oscars, in the Sugar Flowers Category.
With all these impressive accomplishments, we are sure about Ashwini’s long-term success and wish her all the very best for her future endeavours!